How Effective Are Criminal Background Check Self Report Policies?

criminal background checkThe State of Pennsylvania is so confident that a self-report policy will work that they have required all school employees to report any arrests or convictions by 12/27/2011.  I know parents in Pennsylvania are breathing a sigh of relief. Let’s be realistic about a criminal background check self-report policy or law.  Yes, the majority of employees will be honest.  How do I know?  Because they have nothing to hide.

This is the whole nature of criminal background screening.  It is not the masses that you should be concerned with.  It is the small percentage of candidates or employees that have an unsuitable criminal record that you are trying to uncover.

We looked at our findings over the past 6 months and found that 11.71% of our background screening reports contained at least 1 criminal record.  And 27% of those were felony records.

These numbers mirror normal industry standards which indicate a hit ratio around 10%.  So we know that 90% of our employees will honestly self report.

Our focus needs to be on the small number of employees that have an unsuitable record.  Do we honestly believe they will self report an arrest or conviction that may cost them their job?  If they have crossed the line and broken the law, do you think they are struggling internally with telling the truth?

So the big question is how do we police the 10% of our workforce that may have a criminal record?  We could start with a lie detector test.

Seriously, self-reporting policies are a good idea IF you have implemented an ongoing screening program.  Without a screening program, the policy has no teeth.  It would be like having a speed limit but no cops on the interstate.

What incentive is there to report a crime that may impact my job if my employer is not conducting routine criminal background checks?  Sure, if it makes a big splash in the newspaper or the evening news then it will be hard to hide.

But what if it happened on a business trip?  Tell or don’t tell?  The employee will be much more inclined to disclose the arrest or conviction when you are running ongoing background checks and they know a background check will reveal it.

So what is the key takeaway?  If you have a criminal background check self-report policy then you need to have an ongoing screening program to ensure compliance.  Polices require teeth.

Join us for a free webinar:  Should I Be Screening Existing Employees?